Interview with Screenwriter Lyndal Simpson (THE FARRELL GIRL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Lyndal Simpson: Two abused young girls survive the brutal massacre of their family only to be separated in the state care system. Shaun “Fish” Whiting, the main suspect in the killings, remains at large and the exact circumstances of the Farrell family slaughter are shrouded in mystery. Twenty years on the estranged sisters exist as psychologically damaged adults. Their fragile existence is shattered when Fish returns to hunt them down once more. They must find one another before he finds them, and when they do, demons from the past must be finally confronted.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama. Thriller. Crime.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“The Farrell Girl” packs a strong emotional punch while tackling some very heavy social issues – namely child sexual abuse, and violence against women and girls in the home.

I have crafted “The Farrell Girl” to be a story that makes you FEEL – outrage, sympathy, horror, fear and joy. It is also a story designed to make the audience think. Questions such as: How do we as a society judge people and determine who deserves our compassion and who does not? Does the community bear some level of culpability for not acting strongly enough to act on and eliminate domestic violence and child abuse?

The movie would appeal to women across the age spectrum due to the strong female characters, especially the ever-defiant Caitlin Farrell. The thriller element would provide the basis for an even broader appeal, as would the engaging central mystery which draws the viewer in and carries them through to the end – who brutally slaughtered the Farrell men, and why did they do it?

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Gritty realism.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

‘Rocky’. I hate boxing, yet I absolutely love this movie. It’s the gritty, yet endearing tale of an underdog with an indomitable, yet naive spirit who rises against the odds, finds himself on centre stage for his chance at glory…and then loses. And yet, somehow, he doesn’t seem to lose at all. The fact that he got that far and gave it his all comes across as being as good as a victory. The film achieves all this without it ever feeling sappy.

The unlikely romantic pairing between the outgoing and simple Rocky, and the introverted and intelligent Adrian is brilliant. Those final scenes where a battered Rocky calls out for Adrian after losing his fight to Apollo give me goose bumps.

Rocky is the perfect hero for an audience to champion. The story is gripping and uplifting, with one of the most convincing romance plots going. ‘Rocky 2’ is just as good!

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I started working on ‘The Farrell Girl’ in late-2018. I knew I wanted the story to be about child sexual abuse. I knew that the location would be a small Australian town. I also knew who the central characters would be. The seed of the idea came from my own experience growing up in a small town where a particular family were openly shunned by everyone.

7. How many stories have you written?

At this point I have written (1) short – “Possum”, (2) pilots – “The Whistler” and “Four Crows”, and (2) feature scripts – “The Farrell Girl” and “Sun Woman, Moon Man”. I’m currently working on a novel “Afterlife” and a pilot script “Gloomtown” which is adapted from the novel.

I have previously written numerable short stories and won two National Literary Awards in Australia for my stories “The Trolley Boy” and “Spring Frost”.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel. I know that this is very unusual choice, but this song really gives me the feels in a big way. Death and bunny rabbits – emotional stuff!

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

As a mother of two young boys, the biggest obstacle to my writing is always juggling parenting with personal time set aside for writing. For me the key is consistency. I try to write every single day, even if it’s only for a short period.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

History. In particular European/Indigenous relations within Australia; the Third Reich in Germany; and Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century.

11. You entered your screenplay via Coverfly. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Coverfly functions really well as a central platform from which screenwriters can submit their work to competitions, festivals and for feedback. I love having all of my submissions in the one place. It keeps everything so neatly organised. I’ve also had numerous industry downloads requests due to my short screenplay “Possum” being the #1 Thriller Short for 2019 on Coverfly’s Red List.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I generally trust the reputation of competitions that are on Coverfly. I also looked at the Wildsound Festival Review page and could see that the festival was run with a lot of passion.

The feedback that I received was incredibly detailed and constructive. Divided into sections such as PLOT, and even TYPOS. I found that I was able to immediately improve my script as a result. I really appreciated how specific the feedback was in the way that it referred to identifiable paragraphs, dialogue or plot points.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Two young sisters, sole survivors of a family massacre, must find one another after almost twenty years of separation, when the chief suspect in the killings seeks to hunt them down once more.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Caitlin (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Rosie (F): Julie Sheppard
Brodie (M): Fabio Abreu
Alice (F): Cassandra Guthrie

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